Mary Grimm ~ Before All This

Her dreams last night had been red dreams, that was all she could say. Not red like blood, more like the red of the first tulips, a shock of col­or that blasts away the cold and the pale pas­tels of cro­cus­es and daf­fodils. Red dreams, trav­el­ing dreams. Dreams with a map.

In the day­light, she sort­ed through sta­tis­tics as if it were her job. The graphs, the ris­ing line, the maps (maps!) that showed what was going on in dif­fer­ent shades of blue. When her phone beeped, she checked to see if it was her sis­ter, but it wasn’t.

Three months ago she had been in Disneyworld. Disneyworld had closed two days after she rode on the teacups, which she’d dreamed of doing when she was a child, when she and her sis­ter had watched the Mickey Mouse Club and had prac­ticed hav­ing crush­es on Spin and Marty. They had played a pre­tend game in which they were dropped off at the Triple R ranch, where Spin and Marty taught them how to ride hors­es and they sat around camp­fires. The teacups had been fea­tured in the com­mer­cial breaks, eter­nal­ly whirling. She had remem­bered them as ris­ing into the sky, and was dis­ap­point­ed when she climbed into one of them with her grand­sons to find that they stayed on the ground.

The mail con­tin­ued to come and she became used to let­ting it lie on the floor in a des­ig­nat­ed spot for three days.

She hadn’t seen her sis­ter for eight weeks. The last time they had talked in her sister’s office, laugh­ing about what a col­league had said. She couldn’t remem­ber what it was that had been fun­ny. Her sister’s face on the com­put­er screen was unknow­able. She refused for some rea­son to sit close enough to the light. Talking to her in this way was like pray­ing to the saints, as she had done when she was a child, depen­dent on their back­sto­ry as record­ed in her school copy of Lives of the Saints, sto­ries of con­ver­sion, acts of char­i­ty, ecsta­t­ic death. In the dim­ness of her sister’s vir­tu­al liv­ing room, the dis­tant lamp shone on her hair like a halo.

In the red dream, she thought there had been a man and a child, unknown to her, try­ing to get some­where. She was sup­posed to help them, but had no skills that were use­ful in this red world. The red of the dream was like lava, fiery and alive, melt­ing the rock of the world away as it moved, flow­ing around the crisp and black­ened bits of things that peo­ple had loved.


Mary Grimm has had two books pub­lished, Left to Themselves (nov­el) and Stealing Time (sto­ry col­lec­tion) — both by Random House, and a num­ber of flash pieces in places like Helen, The Citron Review, and Tiferet. Currently, she is work­ing on a dystopi­an nov­el about old­sters. She teach­es fic­tion writ­ing at Case Western Reserve University.